Jay (bird)

blue jay
   The jay is a genus of birds belonging to the crow family. The common jay of England is an ashen gray bird tinged with red or purple and marked with black. Only its wing covers are blue. The Florida jay is a gray-blue bird of the Florida coast. A small blue jay is also local in the Gulf States. The Canada jay, whiskey jack, moose bird, or lumber jack; as it is variously called, is a grayish bird with a white forehead and a dirty white neck "like a magnified chick-adee clad in singularly fur-like, thick, puffy gray feathers." It is a familiar adjunct of northern lumber camps. It establishes in­timate relations with one who rests to eat a lunch, and will fly down almost within a hand's reach for crumbs or bacon rinds thrown from the camper's tin plate. It nests in March before snow goes off, and manages in some way, like an owl, to keep its eggs from freezing.

   The common blue jay, well named from voice and color, is an intelligent bird of striking habits and plumage, too well known to require description. "The blue ­jay, that noisy coxcomb, in his gay light-blue coat and white under-clothes; screaming and chattering, nodding and bobbing and bowing, and pretending to be on good terms with every songster of the grove," says Washington Irving. None overlook the large crest on its head and the deep blue wings and tail; but few boys, perhaps, have noted that the white tip of its blue tail does not cross the middle pair of tail feathers, that the wings are barred with black, and that a black stripe runs from the back of the head down the sides of the neck and across the breast. In addition to his excellent quality of staying with us all the year around, the blue jay is really an efficient provider. All through the autumn this blue worker is busy hammering nuts, acorns, seeds, and grains of corn into the forks and split branches of trees. It is credited with considerable ability in mimicking the call of other birds and is something of a ventriloquist. Justice requires the admission that the jay is addicted to harrying the nests of small birds and to devouring both eggs and nestlings. On this account a shotgun is not infrequently brought into requisition, when otherwise this shrill aristocrat would be welcome to consider the dooryard his particular province. Ordinarily the blue jay nests in the crotch of a scrub oak about fifteen feet from the ground. From four to six olive green eggs are marked usually with faint cinnamon brown spots.